What I’ve Learned in Running This Blog

January 21, 2015

There’s what you learn by doing, and there’s what you learn by writing. Thanks to this blog, I feel like my perspective is something a bit unique: I’ve not only played the game (poorly, I’ll grant you), but I’ve also become a student of the game. That studiousness gave me an interesting perspective, and I’d like to share some of that perspective with you (now that I can just make huge open claims):

1. Most people want you to succeed: Even if they don’t agree with you, the majority of people want you to do well. I think it’s an undercurrent of bike polo–at least one of the more healthy undercurrents outside of alcoholism and angst. Folks want folks to have fun and be happy, and are more than willing to help you achieve both of those aims.

2. There are, absolutely, problems with our sport: we have very real problems with infrastructure and with how we deal with ourselves when things go wrong. We don’t quite know how to make sure that the underrepresented are represented in a strong way, or how to make sure new players feel welcome while experienced players feel valuable and competitive. But, all in time.

3. People want to learn: I’ve had some big contests (and some contests that people hated me for), but the most visited posts I’ve ever had were more about learning and understanding our sport. That’s kinda great.

4. Competition can be Friendly: The websites I was most scared of eclipsing mine were 321 POLO & Goalhole. As it turns out, Aaron and Virginia were some of my biggest supporters and amplifiers. They became good cohorts to be with, and that actually led me to change how I look at competition.

5. Meatheads are always Meatheads: People who are overly aggressive, overly pedantic, or overly critical can just be ignored. Seriously. I once tried to address every criticism and every cynical comment, but I realized I was just feeding the trolls. To hell with that noise.

6. Our Market Gets Flooded: There is, honestly, probably room for only a few bike polo companies. Right now everyone is trying to get a few bucks (which is fun, and fine), but realistically the marketplace can’t support it. I’ve watched companies come and go and come again, and that’s just how it’s going to be for a while until we either get more players or people stop trying to get their foot in the door (I’d rather their be more players).

7. Nobody is untouchable: I mean this in two ways: One, I never had someone who refused to talk to me for the sake of the blog (plenty who refused to talk to me simply because they didn’t like me, sadface emoticon), and even at the height of my journalistic power, I still made big dumb mistakes. There it is.

8. It’s easiest to just say you’re sorry: A simple life policy: when I mess up and I don’t stand by my mess up (that is, I make something that another considers a mistake and I don’t), I apologize. It’s remarkable how much the tone and anger shifts once you admit that you’re sorry and that you want to do better. This applies to bike polo as much as it applies to writing about bike polo.

9. It’s easy to be an ally of something: When I started, I wanted to be an ally to my club, and that was super easy. Then I wanted to be an ally of the new player, and that was easy, too. Then I wanted to be an ally of folks who felt like they faced unique challenges in the sport, and that, honestly, wasn’t super easy, but it was important and that made it at least an easy decision. The fact is, it doesn’t take much to separate yourself from the comfortable, silent acceptance of the majority and speak up for the minority.

10. I got lots of hate mail/how-could-you mail: and I loved every minute of it.

Other than Polo

It’s Been a Great Run

January 16, 2015

The short story: on January 25th the anniversary of this site going live, I’m shutting down

The long story:

Holy hell, I never could have imagined how far this little site would take me. For something I started purely because I felt guilty I couldn’t do anything else for my club, it’s led me across the country, made me recognizable to some of the most amazing people, and provided me more free swigs of whiskey and cans of beer than I could have ever hoped for. In all earnestness, it’s made me as close as I’ll ever come to being a polo household name. That’s unbelievable.

In that time, I’ve made lots of friends and a few enemies. And I thank both of those groups because, of course, they kept me on my toes. Friends because I hate to disappoint them, and enemies because I love to disappoint them. Hopefully one side is more full than the other, but who knows.

I’ve decided to shutter lancasterpolo for a few reasons. One, my writing life is taking off at an accelerated rate (my creative writing, not my “creative” writing here) and I find myself the editor in chief of Third Point Press, a new online magazine and press. This is going to take up an enormous amount of my time, and I simply couldn’t do justice to either site if both existed.

Secondly (and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to most of you): it’s hard to run a site that publishes constantly by yourself. I simply can’t have material at a regular clip anymore, and that makes having a site on my own too costly and too time consuming. Add to this the simple expense of the site, and you have a good mix for going completely broke.

But this is not to say that I’m never writing again, of course. I’ve made an offer (and Aaron accepted) to move myself over to 321 POLO! as a contributing writer. Simply put, I’ll write when I want to (which I’m aiming for once a week or biweekly if I’m very busy), but I won’t worry about having something fresh out to you everyday. You’ll still get your fill of nonsense and righteous indignation from me, just not here.

I’ve written so many things that I have been proud of, and lots more that I’ve been embarrassed by. I’ve written about serious, meaningful issues and nonsensical dribble. I enjoyed every minute of it. This blog consumed my life, and I was happy to have it do so. It was a joy, it was an honor.

There are specific people I want to thank, but there are so many of you I don’t know that I could do justice to it here. I want to thank the big names in the sport who pulled me up alongside them, who took the time to talk and to listen. I want to thank my club, of course, my god, for being so fantastic to me and for humoring me when I started this site up. I want to thank all of the people who shouted at me when they saw me and offered me food and beer and money when I was flat broke at every damn tourney. I want to thank the newbs who looked at me wide eyes and unbelieving that someone so fat and short could be “that Crusher from the blog.” I want to thank the people who let me be annoying to get the story, or who were so sweet to me when they had no reason to be other than knowing I needed that comfort. (Yes, I’m actually crying now. No, I’m not ashamed). I want to thank the readers, who pushed me on for so long and who made me feel like my voice was worth something.

It’s hard for me to put into words just how hard this decision was, or just how much Lancasterpolo means to me. It’s not an exaggeration: this is one of the most successful, rewarding things I’ve done in my life. It’s connected me with so many people and provided me with so much…I don’t know…respect in a community, I guess? By nature I’m a sensitive, shy guy–so having people know me before I met them and genuinely be happy to see me was amazing. I won’t be able to say more than thank you to the people who supported me and looked after me. I won’t be able to say more than I love you, and this website over the years has been such a great ride.

But this isn’t really goodbye, of course. I’ll see you over at 321 POLO and I’ll see you at the courts. You, dear reader, mean so much to me. I can’t think of a better bunch of misfits I could write to for all these years.

This is Crusher, Editor of Lancasterpolo, signing off.